One of the most-covered modern Christmas tunes in memory, “Santa Baby” has been recorded by everyone from Maria Muldaur to Natalie Merchant to Taylor Swift to Miss Piggy—and even by a few guys (like Michael Buble and comedy duo Homer & Jethro). But not even Madonna in her prime could match the subtly delicious delivery of the one who sang it first—singer/actress/Broadway star Eartha Kitt.
Written by Joan Javits and Philip Springer, “Santa Baby” was originally recorded by Kitt in 1953, with Henri René and his Orchestra. The song basically speaks for itself: it’s is a tongue-in-cheek, seductive ode to materialism, a woman cooing her Christmas list of extravagant gifts to Santa Claus as if he were a sugar-daddy. It really is a bit politically incorrect, if you think about it, but it’s hard to listen to it without smiling. Especially for the guys.
The original Eartha Kitt version of “Santa Baby” was such a hit (and remains such a favorite) that despite all the covers of it since, the original version is still the one most played on the radio. And despite Eartha Kitt’s long and diverse career, it is also the one song for which she is best remembered.
I’ve included two versions of the song here: the original recording set to video, and a later live performance. Enjoy both!